The number of students applying to the Medical School fell by 11 percent this year--the most serious drop in five consecutive years of declining applications.
The decreasing interest in Harvard reflects a national tread. Last year, American medical schools attracted 10 percent fewer applicants than in 1977.
Admissions officers yesterday cited financial consideration as the most compelling reason for the Harvard pattern, as well as that nationwide. Others mentioned the tightening job market for doctors as a significant factor.
Med School officials said yesterday they have received 416 fewer applications than they had at this time last year. National figures are not available for this year, but the number of applications in 1981--36, 727--was far below the 1977 figure of 40,557, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
"Financial costs are going up, and the support for student aid and low interest loans are or, the wane." Dr. Gerald S. Foster, Director of admissions for Harvard Medical School said.
Applicants stressed, however, that Harvard Med School's tuition--currently $10,200 a year--is not significantly higher than other schools.' "Most private medical schools cost about the same," said Margaret H. Chaffey '83. "It's not like Harvard is especially awful," she added.
Foster agreed, adding that Harvard's financial aid covers more than 70 percent of its medical students. But he noted that national high interest rates on loans students use to cover room and board often prevent them from considering any medical school.
Admissions directors at other schools yesterday also noted these factors. Ronnie E. London, graduate assistant to the director of admissions at the University of California at Berkeley, said. "It's partly Reaganomics and the uncertainty of funding" that is causing the decline.
The Cornell Medical School admissions secretary said the 300-application drop from 1981 stemmed from rising tuition and living costs. "It's hard for college kids to decide if the medical career is worth the sacrifice," Katherine M. Jaconetti said.
Admissions officers and college students also expressed concern over the increasing competitiveness of the medical job market.
Dr. Oglesby Paul, former director of admissions for Harvard Medical School, said that some students fear there will be a glut of medical doctors in the 1990s. "It will certainly be much less easy to get a good practice," he added.
"Individuals are choosing other more immediate job markets, such as engineering," said Barry Williams '83, a medical school applicant.
Tania B. Friedman, another med school admissions officer said the tail end of the baby boom may also have taken its toll on the applicant pool.